42 Cooking Hacks That Are A Little Bit Weird But 100% Useful

    Why didn't anyone tell me about these sooner?

    Whether you're just starting out in the kitchen or you already consider yourself to be a great at-home chef, there's *always* more to learn when it comes to cooking. 🍳

    Here are some of the very best small (yet super effective!) hacks, habits, and tips that can make a big difference in the kitchen. If you've got one to add, leave it in the comments!

    1. For pancakes that always turn out extra fluffy (not flat), leave a few lumps in the batter.

    2. For the fudgiest brownies you've ever tasted, split the baking time.

    Chocolate being melted over a burner, next brownie batter being poured into a pan

    3. When cooking ground meat, add a pinch of baking soda to make it brown more deeply and evenly.

    4. Mix soy sauce and butter to instantly boost the flavor of savory dishes.

    Two bowls next to each other: one filled with melted butter, one filled with soy sauce

    5. To make baked chicken taste fried, add a bit of mayo to the egg-and-breadcrumb coating before baking.

    All of the necessary ingredients for making oven-baked crispy chicken

    6. Freeze lime juice into ice cube trays to make ready-made margarita starters.

    A Ziploc bag filled with ice cubes made of lime juice

    7. And when juicing those limes, cut the bottom off first — so all the juice runs through, rather than getting trapped in the rind.

    The top of a lime being sliced off with a knife, then put into a hand-juicer

    8. Use a nonstick pan sparingly — it's only good for a few things.

    Making scrambled eggs and pancakes in a non-stick pan

    9. Add a tiny bit of salt to your coffee to make it less bitter.

    Coffee grounds and salt visible through the open top of a coffee maker

    10. When pouring marinades or leftovers into a Ziploc, roll down the top of the bag over itself so the closure (and the outside) doesn't get messy.

    A Ziploc bag sitting on a kitchen countertop — with the very top of the bag folded down onto itself

    11. Shrink a sheet pan with a simple strip of foil.

    A tart shell covering about 80% of a sheet pan, which has been down-sized with a foil strip

    12. Convert a regular cake pan into a bundt pan by placing an empty bean or soup can in the middle of it.

    A bean can — filled with dry rice — set in the middle of a cake pan, thus turning it into a make-shift bundt pan

    13. Remember that the Instant Pot comes with a built-in lid holder.

    The lid of an Instant Pot balancing on the Instant Pot's side handle

    14. To prevent guacamole from browning, cover it with a thin layer of pico de gallo until it's time to serve and eat.

    15. Grate ginger with a microplane instead of mincing it.

    Fresh ginger being grated on a microplane

    16. And store ginger in the freezer to make it even easier to grate.

    Frozen ginger on a cutting board, ready for grating

    17. For naturally sweeter lemonade, roast lemons in the oven before juicing them.

    18. Season mushrooms and zucchini *after* they brown in the pan, not before.

    19. And dry meat before searing it to drain excess moisture too.

    Two salmon fillets being dabbed with a paper towel

    20. When working with aromatics, add garlic last.

    A stovetop pan with burnt garlic in it

    21. For glossy, restaurant-quality sauces, finish them with a pat of cold butter.

    A cook swirling pats of butter into a stovetop steak sauce

    22. To easily clean a stubborn cast iron pan, just fry the stuff on the bottom in oil. It'll pop right off.

    23. Finish chilis and stews with a dash of vinegar.

    24. Finish vinaigrettes with hot sauce.

    A bottle of Crystal hot sauce next to a bottle of Red Boat fish sauce

    25. And round out mac 'n' cheese with a spoonful of Dijon mustard.

    26. Always rinse rice with water before cooking it.

    White rinse being rinsed with water in the sink

    27. Don't use olive oil when you're cooking steaks or stir-fries.

    28. When reheating leftovers in the microwave, place a damp paper towel on top.

    A bowl of white rice reheating in the microwave with a wet paper towel draped over it

    29. Caramelize onions in half the time by adding a small pinch of baking soda.

    A before-and-after shot of raw onions and caramelized onions

    30. Instead of turning the hand mixer, turn the bowl.

    A baker holding a hand-mixer with one hand and the edge of a bowl with the other

    31. When making chocolate-flavored dough or batter, use cocoa powder — instead of regular flour — to prep countertops and pans.

    A baker sprinkling a bit of a cocoa powder into a prepped cake pan

    32. If you're using a cake stand, pre-line it with parchment — so it stays clean while you're frosting.

    Four strips of parchment paper draped across a cake stand

    33. Keep cakes from sticking to pans with a magical DIY paste.

    A DIY paste being painted onto a cake stand

    34. To make whipped cream extra fluffy, refrigerate your mixing bowl beforehand.

    Two shots of whipped cream: one looking limp and runny, and one looking airy and peak-filled

    35. To make oven-baked chicken breasts way more flavorful, brine them first.

    Chicken breasts being dipped into water, brushed with butter, seasoned, then baked

    36. Baking bacon? Place a second sheet tray on top of your bacon to prevent it from curling.

    37. To cut onions without crying, pop them in the fridge or freezer first.

    A cheat sheet labeling five most common types of onions

    38. De-gunk your can opener with a sheet of wax paper.

    39. Use olive brine or pickle brine to upgrade savory dishes or as the base of a vinaigrette.

    Two jars next to each other: one full of pickles, one full of olives

    40. Remember that electric stoves can get much hotter than gas stoves.

    An overhead shot of an electric stove, with an arrow pointing at the back burner

    41. Always "cook one off" — and taste your product or prep mixture before you dive into making the rest of it.

    42. Lastly, when in doubt? Double the garlic.

    A head of garlic in hand, with several cloves missing

    What's a kitchen or cooking habit you wish you'd known about sooner? Share it in the comments! 🔪